Empowering Children

Saving the Library
Lori Jackson

Outside of the tragedy, some really neat things have been happening in my classroom in the last week. For instance, last week, in disgust, I draped a chain across the library with a sign that said "Library Closed Until March 17th, Reason: Too many books on the floor and stuffed into
the wrong tubs!" I had no sooner hung the sign when in marched Jamie, a now avid reader, and he announced that he was going to do something about this problem. Up went his sign: "Save our Libre! Sing up!" At the end of the week he recruited nine more activists and distributed a memo, which I photocopied for him: "Save our Libre!! Meeting 2:00 Tuesday". He grumbled a bit as I told him, on a day when my principal choose to come hang out, that the kids were going to have to solve this problem on their on time and that meant recess. All of the kids were
there yesterday, my aide and I trying hard to stay in the background without missing the discussion. Evidently Jamie had some serious talk outside of school because he grabbed my teacher chair, announcing that this committee needs a chairperson and since it was his idea, he was taking the job! Amazing enough these kids had an incredible discussion, throwing out ideas and treating one another with incredible respect. "I really don't agree with you...."---to the idea of the afterschool kids doing all the cleaning, made by an afterschool kid who would proably have been happy to do it...."I really think Shayna is right on that..." --we can't just clean it, we have to keep it clean. They came up with a proposal, which I charted them as the bell was looming. Their plan:

1. Don't leave books laying around or put them in the right tubs!

2. Four people every week will keep the library clean. They will work during one recess.

3. Everybody has to take turns doing the job.

4. If anybody leaves books on the floor, report them to the library committee.

They presented this morning and we did the aye or nay votes. 22 votes aye, 2 votes naye. Motion passed! The first four volunteers spent two hours cleaning it out--soriting all the tubs, dusting and vacuuming! And up went a new sign..."Library Grand Re-Opening, Monday, 3/17/03"

Ain't life grand?

PS My chairperson is also strutting this week because he wrote to the principal to tell her that the lights in the boys bathroom were burned out (and have been for two weeks, but he didn't say that). So on Monday, the lights are fixed and he is pretty much convinced that words work. Cool, cool, cool!

Lori Jackson has been teaching for nine years in Todd County, South Dakota. She is currently teaching as part of a 1-2 looping partnership. Her undergraduate work was complete at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, having accumulated too many credits not to, she is currently pursuing her master's degree in reading at Sinte Gleske University in South Dakota. She is a CGI trainer/mentor teacher and uses the philosophy of Whole Language to guide her classroom practice.

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